Green Books

Palmer Chiropractic Green Books: The Definitive Guide by Timothy Faulkner, Joseph Foley, and Simon Senzon, is now available in color paperback and premium color hardcover editions.

We decided that it was time for the chiropractic profession to have a definitive guide to the chiropractic Green Books. There are far too many myths about chiropractic’s original paradigm, the Palmers, and the Green Books. This book was designed to update the chiropractic profession about the foundation of chiropractic research, theory, and practice. The Green Books represent chiropractic’s most fundamental application. Reading The Definitive Guide is the place to start.

Writing this book was a labor of love. Please order your copy today (and then order five more to gift to students).

Please read the Introduction to the book below:

The Green Books embody the chiropractic profession’s fundamental elements. The first of the books were written by D.D. Palmer, the founder of chiropractic, and his son B.J. Palmer, often referred to as the developer of chiropractic. The entire series includes more than 40 books published between 1906 and 1966. Most of the books were written by B.J. and over a dozen were written by faculty of the Palmer School of Chiropractic (PSC) as teaching texts. The books themselves cover the original chiropractic paradigm, various topics viewed from the chiropractic perspective, the development of theory and ideas from the first chiropractic school, as well as a unique historical account of chiropractic events, scientific research, and the evolution of clinical methodologies over the profession’s first 60 years.

Few material items in the chiropractic profession stir up more passion and emotion than the Palmer Green Books. Some consider the books as the “alpha and omega” of the profession, with the very essence of chiropractic written within their pages. Others in the profession would like to see the Green Books burned and the Palmer ideas abandoned.

For the chiropractor who chooses to practice chiropractic as it was originally developed, the Green Books are akin to sacred texts. The Green Books are original source material containing the words of the founder and the developer. For many in the profession the Green Books define what chiropractic is and what chiropractic is not. Answers to countless questions may be found within the more than 20,000 written pages. For those looking to learn about the science, art, and philosophy of chiropractic, there is but one source, the Palmer Green Books.

The Definitive Guide was written as a comprehensive introduction to the Green Books. We hope it will appeal to anyone interested in the history, philosophy, science, or art of chiropractic. It could be read by chiropractic patients and practice members to better understand the foundations of chiropractic theory. It might also be read by historians, scholars, and health care providers interested in chiropractic. Specifically, we wrote Palmer Chiropractic Green Books: The Definitive Guide for practicing chiropractors, Green Book collectors, and the chiropractors of the future.

The Overview

Few chiropractors have read any Green Books. Of those few, an even smaller number have read more than two or three of the books. The most commonly read Green Books are probably D.D. Palmer’s two books, B.J. Palmer’s Subluxation Specific Adjustment Specific and his Bigness of the Fellow Within, and Ralph Stephenson’s Chiropractic Textbook. Of the D.D. Palmer books it seems common for most readers to skim or selectively read passages, especially of his 1910 book, which takes a commitment to read from cover to cover. For these reasons we decided to create not only an introduction to every Green Book for beginners and collectors alike but an overview of the books. By discussing how the books developed, why they were written, and the central theories in each book, it is our hope that The Definitive Guide will become a resource for generations of chiropractors.

The first fifteen chapters are about the content of the books. Most chapters cover at least two books. Some chapters include up to eight books. Chapter One was written as a collaboration by all three authors: Faulkner, Foley, and Senzon. It provides a historical context for the books, how the chiropractic paradigm emerged, what the first teaching methods were like, and also some early conflicts in the profession, including the clash between D.D. Palmer and B.J. Palmer. The chapter also covers the legal pressures on the young profession and the emergence of the Chiropractic Book Series.

Chapters Two through Thirteen were written by Senzon, with historical and editorial insights from Faulkner and Foley. These chapters were developed to provide the modern reader with an accurate understanding of what is in Volumes 1-39 with an emphasis on the philosophical and theoretical developments. The goal was to provide an overview not a critique. So, we’ve glossed over things like typographical or other perceived errors. Our plan was to share what the books are about. Future works might take a more critical stance and examine the many theories against current insights from philosophy and science. However, some of the chapters do offer limited critiques, contexts, and philosophical perspectives. This was necessary in order to demonstrate the relevance of the texts for today’s chiropractor.

Since the focus of the book is the Green Books themselves, we chose to highlight any mention of the Green Books in advertisements, and reference within the books to the other volumes. We also highlighted quotes about the writing process and the development of the series.

Overall, the use of quotes is designed to assist the reader to understand the writing styles and learn important concepts from the authors themselves. We included many extended quotes so that the reader might develop a feel for the writings and to make sure the quotes are viewed in context. In that regard, in Vol. 38, B.J. Palmer writes:

“It is unfair and unjust to any author for any reader to take any section or sentence out of pretext, text, or context, and misinterpret the author’s overall premises of his book, in the light of what ONE SENTENCE might imply. Any book must be studied in its ENTIRETY and OVER-ALL elucidation of problems it solves.”

In a few instances, we abridged quotes with “…” to jump from one statement to another. This was done purely for aesthetics. Keeping such full quotes would have required unnecessary explanations in order to add the proper context. Readers may go to the original in such instances and read the complete text.

Unfortunately, the improper use of quotes is common in the chiropractic literature, often leading to misunderstandings about the history of ideas in chiropractic. This is another reason why a thorough study of the Green Books is essential so that the development of ideas in chiropractic might be more fully understood.

Also, please note that some of the language and writing style in the Green Books is unique. For example, D.D. and B.J. Palmer used shortened words, like “thot” replacing “thought.” This was a linguistic style from the early twentieth century. Additionally, both D.D. and B.J. Palmer had their own way with words. By providing extended quotes, we hope the reader might come to understand the complexity of the ideas and also develop an appreciation for the texts in a new way. Becoming acquainted with the unorthodox writing styles of the Palmers will better prepare readers for a more thorough reading of the Green Books.

In addition to the emphasis on theory and the books themselves, we highlighted writings about the history and research. This focus of The Definitive Guide is important because it offers a counterbalance to trends in the current chiropractic literature that is often divorced from historical fact. For example, several of the Green Books demonstrate a robust attempt to research and document the vertebral subluxation, written from first-person accounts. Some peer-reviewed literature today takes the stance that either the subluxation was never researched or that any research from earlier eras should be dismissed. We hope that by providing a more in-depth perspective on these topics the reader might judge the value of chiropractic science based on historical fact.

We have opted not to cite references throughout the text. A list of references is included at the end of the book. This was an aesthetic choice designed for the general readers and chiropractic students. We feel this way of learning about the Green Books, without being distracted by an overabundance of numbered endnotes or author’s names in parenthesis, will assist the new student of the books to focus on the ideas themselves. In that regard, we have also opted to leave out page numbers alongside each quote. All quotations are associated with each volume’s section or chapter. We expect that scholars and historians will study the references, especially if they have a question about any assertions made in the book.

The overall emphasis of the first part of the book is the chronological development of ideas throughout the Green Books. In this regard, an effort was made to limit repetition. This could be misleading for the reader who hopes to get a complete overview of each book. Many of the Green Books include the same basic definitions of terms like vertebral subluxation and Innate Intelligence. Some books even repeat chapters and passages from previous books. However, each book is unique in its overall focus and development of ideas. Please assume that the core ideas are congruent throughout the books unless we refer to a distinct change from one book to another, such as the shift to an upper cervical model of vertebral subluxation or years later to a full spine analysis. So, even if one of the central concepts from the chiropractic paradigm is not mentioned in regards to a particular volume, that does not mean the book skips the topic. By emphasizing the unique contribution from each book, rather than repeating identical definitions, The Definitive Guide explores the evolution of the ideas while offering an overview of the books. In order to acquire a complete understanding of any Green Book, it is essential to go to the source and read it.

The Writings

Chapter Two is about D.D. Palmer’s first writings on chiropractic, with an emphasis on his writings between 1902 and 1906. D.D. Palmer’s writings from this period laid the foundation of the chiropractic paradigm and also comprised the core chapters of Vol. 1 of the Green Book Series. Chapter Two also includes some of the historical background of his early writings, a few references to his pre-1900 writings, as well as discussions of his earliest thoughts on disease, structure and function, mixing chiropractic, vertebral subluxation, Innate Intelligence, Educated Intelligence, and Universal Intelligence. Some of these early articles were also included in D.D. Palmer’s 1910 book.

Chapter Three includes an overview of 1906-1910. This includes an historical account of how Vol. 1 ultimately got published without D.D. Palmer’s final approval, even though he was listed as the primary author.

The chapter explores his 1906 theories about displaced articular surfaces and disease. The chapter also includes a chronological look at his Portland writings between 1908 and 1910, which were all included in his 1910 book. The examination of those writings emphasizes his critiques of other chiropractors, his theory of impingement, as well as his new thoughts on Innate. For example, in September 1909 he critiqued his own essay on Innate Intelligence originally written in 1903 and updated his theory. The chapter also includes a brief discussion of his 1910 book. This section emphasizes his theories that had not been significantly written about prior to 1910 such as tone and neuroskeleton.

Chapter Four is about D.D. Palmer’s final book, The Chiropractor, published posthumously in 1914. Since the book was a compilation of his final lectures from 1912 and 1913, the chapter explores the lectures as one body of thought. Thus, rather than viewing the book as a cohesive text, the ideas are broken down and explained in a logical order. For example, the initial sections include his ideas about tone, biological principles, health and disease, life and death, vital force and energy, impulse, neuroskeleton as a nerve-tension frame, vertebral subluxation, pinching versus impinging, etiology, inflammation, nerve tracing, and palpation. The second part of the chapter explores his theory of neurological habit grooves, the relationship between organism and environment, consciousness, Innate, and inspiration. The final sections of the chapter examine his proposed religious legal strategy, his views on subjective and objective religion, as well as chiropractic as a moral and religious duty, his “doctrine,” and also his thoughts about chiropractic’s impact on society and culture, along with his view of individual greatness and what he referred to as “the great advancement.”

Chapters Five and Six include overviews of Vols. 2-13. These books formed the canon of the textbooks that were used to teach the first generation of chiropractic students at the PSC. Chapter Five covers B.J. Palmer’s first six books. In those books, B.J. introduced new theories and practices, some of which became the foundation of the profession for decades. His new clinical applications and philosophical contributions were developed from the paradigm initiated by his father. For example, D.D. Palmer’s practice of nerve tracing was developed into the meric system, and his theory of dis-ease and abnormal function were developed into B.J.’s models of momentum, retracing, and nine primary functions. B.J. Palmer’s models were also developed in the context of his expanding clinical empiricism. He officially took over the school from his father in 1906 even though he had been running it since 1902. By 1909, the student clinic at PSC in Davenport was seeing more than 100 patients per day. Textbooks were needed for the growing student body, not only for philosophy and technique but for every core subject. Chapter Six explores the first textbooks written by PSC faculty between 1914-1920 on topics like Symptomatology, Physiology, Anatomy, Spinography, Chemistry, and Gynecology.

These first books in the PSC faculty series, which came to be known as the Green Books, demonstrate a pioneering philosophical approach to biology for the early twentieth century. The books shared a common viewpoint, the view from Innate. That is, not only did they consider the organism in terms of neurologically mediated self-organizing and self-healing processes but they tried to convey each physiological and clinical topic based on what Innate was attempting to do at any moment. This was in regard to normal function, interacting with the environment, and dealing with the consequences of vertebral subluxation. B.J. referred to this as “the chiropractic standpoint.” The early Green Books represent the first comprehensive attempt by a school of thought to publish a series of textbooks from an Innate perspective. These chiropractic texts foreshadowed late twentieth century theoretical biology with its theories of autopoiesis, complex systems, dissipative structures, and self-organization. Future chiropractic research and theory might build upon this foundation by understanding the ways these early chiropractors integrated the chiropractic paradigm into each discipline.

Chapters Seven, Eight, and Nine include the books published in the 1920s. Chapter Seven is about what we refer to as the Humanities Green Books: The Spirit of the PSC, Chiropractic Advertising, and Chiropractic Malpractice. The first book, The Spirit of the PSC was written as a novel by Leroy Nixon, a student, to capture the atmosphere of the school at its peak in the early 1920s. Chiropractic Advertising was written by Harry Vedder, a faculty member. It includes an overview of marketing practices in common use and also advice on communication and professionalism. Chiropractic Malpractice was written by Arthur Holmes, one of the chief lawyers who defended chiropractors in court. It includes legal advice, communication strategies, and a legalistic perspective on chiropractic from that era. Chapter Eight covers the legacy of John H. Craven, DC. He wrote two Green Books: Chiropractic Orthopedy and A Textbook on Hygiene and Pediatrics from a Chiropractic Standpoint, and, he also collaborated with B.J. Palmer on new editions of Vols. 1, 2, and 5. Those were B.J.’s main books of philosophy. As head of the Department of Philosophy, Craven was the teacher of Ralph W. Stephenson, DC.

Chapter Nine covers the life and work of R.W. Stephenson.Stephenson’s Chiropractic Textbook has had more impact on the profession than any of the books. His 1927 book was used for decades as the main philosophy text at the PSC. It is still used today to teach the core principles of chiropractic at several colleges around the world. The chapter provides a look at Stephenson’s life, his writings prior to and after 1927, and also an exploration of his second book, The Art of Chiropractic. Many of the main ideas published in his textbook were already described in his articles and his thesis, written in 1924. The chapter provides a context for the book and emphasizes his contributions to chiropractic theory.

Like the earlier Green Books, Stephenson’s integration of the chiropractic paradigm might be viewed as a precursor to late twentieth century theoretical biology, systems views on clinical practice, and body/mind approaches to health and healing. Additionally, his text could be viewed as contemporary for the time.

It was written at a time in Western culture when biology was a relatively new discipline and biologists were seeking to establish definitions of life based on the holistic organizing relations of parts rather than on the parts themselves. Here is one example of the holistic perspective inherent to Stephenson’s text. He writes:

“If a number of interdependent parts are to have a cooperative relation with each other, they must be grouped about a central idea, a common need or governing principle. This governing principle is Innate Intelligence.”

What theoretical biologists refer to today as “self-organization,” the biologist of the 1920s referred to as “organization.” The Green Books used the term “organization” more than eighty times to refer to the body’s innate ability to self-organize. Stephenson refers to Innate Intelligence as the scientific “law of organization.” Understanding how the chiropractic paradigm and its development in the Green Books was a part of wider trends in biological thinking within the culture may help today’s chiropractor to find new relevance in the texts and also provide new avenues of exploration for the chiropractic researcher.

Even though Stephenson and other chiropractic theorists of that era published ideas that were congruent with early twentieth-century theoretical biologists, chiropractic texts were not integrated with main-stream health or science literature. The Green Books were mostly self-published by the PSC. This was a common practice of chiropractic colleges, many of which published two or three texts.

Chapters Ten and Eleven are about the research pamphlets and the research textbooks from the 1920s and the 1930s. Chapter Ten includes an overview of the many pamphlets B.J. Palmer published between 1924 and 1933. These were his yearly reports delivered at Lyceum about the various research studies undertaken, starting with the first thermography research and ending with the upper cervical model of the torqued subluxation. Most of these pamphlets were integrated into future Green Books.

Chapter Eleven covers the research textbooks published between 1934 and 1938. The first book, Vol. 18, introduced B.J. Palmer’s approach to the upper cervical subluxation specific adjustment. In 1936, Vol. 19, B.J. gave his first report on the new B.J. Palmer Chiropractic Research Clinic. In 1938, Vol. 20, B.J. Palmer published a text on x-ray analysis using comparative graphs and Percy Remier, DC, published Chiropractic Spinography as Vol. 21, which included the latest advances in x-ray technology and analysis.

Chapter Twelve explores B.J. Palmer’s tomes. Between 1949 and 1953, he published Vols. 22-29. Each book was more than 700 pages in length. The chapter includes the main philosophical and theoretical contributions of the books along with several important details. These texts lay the foundation for B.J. Palmer’s final refinements and evolution of the Innate philosophy, including his emphasis on Innate Thot Flashes and the integration of his 14 years of clinical research using thermography, x-ray analysis, and other innovations like shielded grounded booths, and the invention of the electroencephalneuromentimpograph. The chapter also describes much of what is in the books including letters, research studies, older philosophy essays, as well as historical and autobiographical accounts. Additionally, until this chapter was written, there was no account in the literature of the way older pamphlets were used in later Green Books. One of the reasons why B.J. Palmer was able to publish so many thousands of pages in such a short time was because dozens of chapters are comprised of pamphlets, some of which were written as early as 1911. He did not include the dates for most of the original writings and so it is probable that many chiropractors have viewed these chapters as if they were written in the 1950s.

Chapters Thirteen, Fourteen, and Fifteen cover B.J. Palmer’s final writings; Vols. 32-39. B.J. published these final eight books between 1955 and 1961. The books focused on philosophy, research, technique, theory, and reflect on his life in the context of the development of chiropractic. He started publishing one book per year and delivered the talks at Lyceum. His nephew, William H. Quigley wrote about B.J.’s dedication to teaching during those last years of his life. Quigley writes:

“During the summers of 1955 through 1960 B. J. wanted to keep in touch with the students and planned on addressing each of the school’s 12 classes. He would lecture from eight until ten, taking time to answer questions from the student body. He would rarely have time during the year to meet this schedule, because of travel and other commitments, yet each year he would try again. He did make certain that he had at least one opportunity to talk with each class before their graduation.”

In spite of B.J. Palmer’s debilitating health challenges during the 1950s, he continued to write, to meet with his team running the PSC and Palmer Broadcasting, and he started planning for the inevitable. Quigley writes:

“As B.J. pondered his mortality he did what many other men did before him, he sought means of perpetuating his name and work…
During the last years he clearly seemed compelled to publish what he considered proof of chiropractic in general and his philosophic beliefs in particular.”

The last of the Green Books convey an evolution of B.J. himself. This evolution is most notable in his more spiritual writings as well as his attitude towards critics and detractors. He became more accepting and seemed to acquire a new type of insight about human nature. He recog-nized that his audience was targeted. He wrote for them.

Chapter Thirteen covers Vols. 32-34, Chapter Fourteen covers Vols. 35 and 36, and Chapter Fifteen covers Vols. 37-39. Each book represents a distinct body of knowledge. The chapter sections dedicated to each volume are categorized with topical subheadings so as to better introduce the reader to the complexity and range of ideas. The books build upon new avenues of Innate philosophy, many of which were first described in Vol. 22 published in 1949. In these, his last writings, it is possible to track new developments of ideas, an evolution of theories, and a historical perspective that brings context to chiropractic as a profession.

B.J. Palmer’s final eight books are an ideal place to begin any study of his life and work. The books themselves are relatively short, especially in comparison to the tomes. Any study of the Green Books could begin with Vol. 32 and, over the course of several months, systematically continue through Vol. 39. In this way, B.J. Palmer’s final writings offer any student of chiropractic an excellent place to get started. These books provide a glimpse into a life of continual growth and discovery, as well as the development of theory in relation to all aspects of chiropractic.

For Green Book Collectors

Chapters Sixteen, Seventeen, and Eighteen, were written by Faulkner and Foley, with editorial and historical insight from Senzon. These chapters were the inspiration for The Definitive Guide, which was originally intended to be a resource for Green Book collectors and gradually evolved into the current form. The detail in these chapters include the definition of a Green Book, ways to determine authenticity, rarity, and value of a book, an exploration of the history of Green Book publications, and a novel category system to distinguish between every edition of every Green Book.

Generations of chiropractors have been collecting Green Books. Many chiropractors have claimed to own a complete “set” of Green Books. Usually this means they have all the books that were issued while they or their relative was a student at Palmer. It was common for Palmer graduates to keep their Green Books even after they had retired and stopped practicing. Many kept their books until they died, their Green Books meant that much to them. Since the Green Books were produced over a nearly sixty-year span, it is doubtful that any chiropractor was ever able to purchase each book as it was initially issued. Even B.J. Palmer could not have owned a complete set of published books because the last two Green Books were published posthumously.

After B.J. Palmer died in 1961, the profession entered a “dark age” of chiropractic philosophy. The philosophy of chiropractic was not stressed as strongly in chiropractic schools. Most of the early Green Books were long out of print. New chiropractic books discussing philosophy were rare. Young chiropractors began to search for Green Books. The authors have found small want-ads from the early 1970s, when chiropractors were seeking Green Books. One chiropractor told us that in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he advertised in the classified “wanted” section of chiropractic magazines. Generally speaking, he paid $100 for a Palmer-authored Green Book and $50 for non-Palmer books. He did not know what books existed and was always excited to find a book he did not have. Oftentimes the buyer would have to purchase all the books in a lot. He would be contacted in response to his ad by a retired doctor or the family of a deceased chiropractor. They would say they have a specific number of books and a price would be negotiated. This method led to duplicates in collections, which were often traded with other chiropractors also seeking Green Books.

Some of the initial volumes from the 1920s and earlier are on their third or even fourth owners. Books from the late 1950s are just coming available because their original owners are now elderly and parting with their prized possessions.

Our intent is to disseminate the most detailed knowledge available of the physical books themselves. This is the first significant update to the literature about the Green Books since Glenda Wiese and Michelle Lykens published A Bibliography of the Palmer Green Books in Print, in 1986. We hope that the collector may better understand the subtle nuances of the various books and make informed collecting decisions. This book provides knowledge for the Green Book collector about the individual Green Books to be sought and offers an idea of the rarity and value. Collecting Green Books is an extension of passion for the chiropractic profession.

The Wiese and Lykens bibliography introduced the profession to facts about how many Green Books were actually produced over the years. Prior to their bibliography, the only accurate lists of the books were old PSC catalogs, which listed books that were available but not books that were out of print, reissued volume numbers, or those not yet written. For example, doctors tried to collect every volume number but did not know that some numbers were used twice. Wiese and Lykens demonstrated that several volume numbers had been used on completely different books and that two volume numbers were missing from the series: Vols. 30 and 31. Their bibliography became a “shopping list” for the modern Green Book collector. It is only since their Green Book bibliography that collectors have been able to truly collect a complete set of Green Books.

Chapter Sixteen covers special considerations about the Green Books such as reissued volume numbers, missing volume numbers, unnumbered Green Books, other Palmer books, covers, leather bound special editions, private collections, author mock-ups, signed and inscribed editions, numbered editions, non-traditional sized Green Books, the difference between editions and printings, supplements to editions, and modern reprints.

Chapter Eighteen covers the rarity and value of a Green Book. Since collectors traditionally did not know what books even existed, pricing was arbitrary. We will attempt to take some of the guesswork out of collecting. The chapter includes a rarity and desirability scale (also used in the Green Book Master List); how to value Green Books; the art of trading, buying, and selling Green Books, as well as how to assess book condition and guidelines for repairing damaged books.

Before the Internet, finding Green Books was limited to advertising in chiropractic journals, from estate sales of deceased chiropractors, and contacting used bookstores in person. The Internet opened the inventory of every bookstore in the world to online buyers. In an instant, the inventory of thousands of used bookstores could be searched, and Green Books bought for the listed price. And yet, booksellers had no idea how to price these books. Some would be listed for only a dollar or two, others would be listed for exceptionally high prices.

Green Book pricing, rarity, value, and desirability became more established with online auctions such as eBay and other auctions listing Green Books for sale. This system of buying and selling began to set a true market-price for Green Books. In an online auction, as buyers bid against each other, prices began to be established. The rarer books had serious bidding wars resulting in high prices. The more common books would sell for as low as $20 and were readily available. If there were no interested buyers, the Green Book would not sell at all. Over the past fifteen years prices have fluctuated based on supply and demand. During a period of oversupply and less demand, prices dropped. The rarer Green Books continue to command a high value.

When B.J. officially took over the PSC in 1906, there were not many students. In those early years, B.J. did not need many books printed. However, he did print more books than he needed for the current students. Some books were sold to former students as well as potential students studying at home. Of course the future PSC student would need books. By 1919, the PSC had several thousand students. At that point many thousands of books were printed and sold by the PSC to its students. This simple detail is a big factor in the rarity of Green Book editions. Many of the early books were printed in such limited amounts that they are very rare today. Green Books for the 1920s were printed by the thousands, and as such, many have more supply than demand.

This Book

The Definitive Guide was also written to act as an anchor to the chiropractic paradigm. The rhetoric in the chiropractic profession today needs such an anchor. There are articles published in the peer-reviewed literature attacking the chiropractic paradigm without adequate historical references. Some of these articles suggest that philosophy and vertebral subluxation should be dropped in the trash bin of history because they are no longer needed and perhaps never were. This type of ahistorical rhetoric, usually backed up by a plethora of circular and faulty references, is taking root in the profession and influencing board decisions, institutional policies, and threatening the ability of good chiropractors to practice. On the other end of the spectrum, philosophy is sometimes used in chiropractic to support unfounded claims, historical facts are too often mistaken, and narrowly focused beliefs limit the profession’s ability to develop. It is our fervent hope that this book will guide the next generation of chiropractors like a candle lit in the darkness.

DD Palmer References

D.D. Palmer references are a vital source of information about early chiropractic theory. The chiropractic profession developed from his chiropractic paradigm.

The science behind D.D. Palmer’s theories was advanced for his time. This is important because some chiropractors are still unclear about D.D. Palmer’s knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pathology, and surgery.*

This post focuses on D.D. Palmer references rather than the articles, interviews, and public presentations that misrepresent the history of ideas in chiropractic.

DD Palmer’s Medical Library

Twenty-three years ago, a landmark paper was published on D.D. Palmer references. The article was subtitled, “The Founder was Into the Literature.”

The authors document D.D. Palmer references in an amazing way. They were able to demonstrate that the founder of chiropractic was current on the latest textbooks in his field.

D.D. Palmer references were compared to the books that medical schools required during that time. In his 1910 book, D.D. Palmer referenced the latest texts alongside previous editions. He even gave some historical citations going back almost 100 years in the literature. 

D.D. Palmer was a self-taught expert on anatomy, physiology, and pathology. 

No More Excuses

Leaders of the chiropractic profession should demonstrate a mastery of chiropractic’s history of ideas. In the past, there simply wasn’t a great deal of information. Most authors did the best they could with the resources they had. Today we know much more about D.D. Palmer and we have access to virtually all of his writings.

Also, we now have access to most of his references!

Chiropractic educators should demonstrate a solid understanding of chiropractic’s history of ideas. This goes for speakers at conferences, authors, faculty, and administrators. Mastery of chiropractic’s history of ideas should be a professional standard.

Here are two example of how D.D. Palmer used the literature to develop his theory of vertebral subluxation.**

D.D. Palmer on Subluxation as a Partial Displacement of Articular Surfaces

One of the best examples of D.D. Palmer’s integration of the literature comes from his article Chiropractic Rays of Light. It was first published in The Chiropractor, in the June 1905 issue. The article was then republished as a chapter in The Science of Chiropractic (1906) and again as a chapter in The Science, Art, and Philosophy of Chiropractic (1910).

In the article, he provides 27 quotations to support the following statement,

“It is interesting and instructive to notice the various opinions of medical writers, in regard to luxations of the vertebral column, and how near they were onto that which is now known as Chiropractic. Below are given extracts from standard anatomies and orthopedical books.

A Chiropractic luxation is where the articular surfaces of any of the 51 spinal joints have been partially displaced, and not usually accompanied with fracture. The replacing of these sub-luxated vertebrae are readily accomplished by a Chiropractor. When we refer to Chiropractic luxations of the spinal column, we speak of those which have been only partially displaced in the articular processes.”

Most D.D. Palmer references are now digitized and available online. It is very easy for us to check his references.

Here are a few:

Regional Anatomy in its Relations to Medicine and Surgery Vol. 2

George McClellan (1894)

A Text-Book of Anatomy by American Authors

Edited by Frederic Henry Gerrish (1902)

The Science and Art of Surgery

John Eric Erichsen (1884)

D.D. Palmer on Nerve Tension and Nerve Stretching

D.D. Palmer referred to the stretching of nerves in relation to displaced vertebra as early as 1899. By 1910, D.D. cited Landois to support the latest development of his theories. He quotes Landois description of nerve stretching and then says,

“Nerve tension, nerve stretching, acts as an irritant, causes too much functionating, too much action, a waste of energy. Extreme tension causes paralysis. Bones of the body framework give to nerves a proper and normal tension, known as tone. If they are displaced, they will cause either more tension or relaxation. If so, why not replace the displaced bone which is causing tension or relaxation?”***

He also referenced Landois, Gould, and Lippincott to support his theories on the effects of nerve irritation. He proposed that the irritation of the nerve is related to the atomic activity of the nerve. He referred to this as his “thermal-nerve theory.” Life processes were viewed as vibratory. Subluxation causes too much or not enough function due to increased vibration or decreased vibration. This leads to increased or decreased tonicity of the organs or tissues. Thus, chiropractic is based on tone.

Pedestals, Authority, and Paradigms

Chiropractors who criticize the use of D.D. Palmer’s theories in modern practice should be wary of their argument style. A critical approach is essential especially when taking a dismissive stance.  An academic discussion about the history of ideas in chiropractic should include historical facts and evidence using appropriate references. Otherwise it is just rhetoric.

For example, it is too easy to assume various things like; just because the term “subluxation” is being used that it is the same definition that was used a century ago. A simple look at the literature and textbooks on subluxation will demonstrate the fallacy of that position.

Then there is the mistaken assumption that those who invoke D.D. Palmer’s ideas or B.J. Palmer’s are automatically putting them up on pedestals, appealing to authority, or the strangest claim; making chiropractic into a religion. It is true that chiropractors in the past have exalted the Palmers. And some chiropractors may still do that today. And yet, most do not. That is an important distinction that gets glossed over or perhaps is just not commonly understood.

There is a big difference between appealing to authority and learning from the past. The fact of the matter is that D.D. Palmer developed a new paradigm, the chiropractic paradigm. In the Kuhnian definition of the term, a paradigm must include a new radical viewpoint with a practice that enacts it. D.D. Palmer’s paradigm was that irritation of the nervous system due to impinged or stretched nerves (usually of the spine) led to abnormal function of the nerves. This could be a primary or secondary contributor to pathophysiology. The practice of chiropractic is to adjust the spine to release the irritation and normalize intelligent function.

Critics should examine D.D. Palmer references along with his clinical observations and then re-frame the critiques so that they are evidence-based. Are D.D. Palmer’s ideas being correctly described? How EXACTLY has his paradigm been debunked in the literature? Has it? The task for a critic is to determine how his work is being applied in relation to today’s practice, which should include objective assessment not assumptions.

 

*The surgery literature of the time included detailed explanations of the spine and nervous system.

**According to Faulkner’s book, he first used the term a few months after O.G. Smith, in 1902.

***His term “functionating” was in use at the time.

TIC Dialogue: Thom Gelardi and Simon Senzon

In this TIC Dialogue, Thom Gelardi and Simon Senzon discuss several chiropractic topics over the course of three hours.  The topics ranged from Thom’s only meeting with B.J. Palmer in the 1950s, his private practice, his mentor, Lyle Sherman, as well as other events of history and politics. The most distinct element of the dialogue is Thom’s unwavering philosophical viewpoint that professions are defined by their mission.

This short clip from the discussion is about the different paradigm, or what Gelardi refers to as missions. The chiropractic mission is distinct. The medical mission too is distinct. Over the course of chiropractic history, there was once a clash between “straights” and “mixers.” Starting in the 1970s, that paradigm clash focused on the role of diagnosis and analysis in chiropractic practice.

To listen to the full dialogue, please become a member of The Institute Chiropractic.

TICVLOG Episode 8: DD Palmer BJ Palmer and the Chiropractic Profession

The relationship between D.D. Palmer, B.J. Palmer, and the chiropractic profession is fascinating. In TICVLOG Episode 8: Father and Son, I go into detail about their interactions and the impact it had. One of the most fascinating things I discovered was that the back and forth between D.D. Palmer and B.J. Palmer during the years 1908 to 1910, led to new breakthroughs in chiropractic philosophy, theory, and practice.

BIG IDEAS FROM THIS EPISODE

  • In private letters between D.D. Palmer and B.J. Palmer we learn how and why their relationship fell apart.
  • The year of 1906-1906 was a very difficult one for D.D. Palmer. It had its tragedies, blessings, and new horizons.
  • When D.D. Palmer got to Oregon in 1908, he started reading B.J. Palmer’s new books Vol 2 and Vol 3.
  • D.D.’s criticisms of B.J.’s new chiropractic ideas led to a refinement of theories for both of them.
  • The theories that emerged from that period became the foundation of the chiropractic profession.
  • D.D. Palmer’s final lectures were gathered by his wife after his death and published as a book in 1914.

Resources for this Episode:

  • D.D. Palmer’s 1914 book, The Chiropractor is available online.
  • Volume 1 was a compilation of D.D.’s articles, B.J.’s new articles, and several other authors.
  • More resources on D.D. Palmer may be found here: D.D. Palmer.
  • More resources about B.J. Palmer may be found here: B.J. Palmer.

SEND ME YOUR QUESTIONS FOR FUTURE EPISODES

 

* Music written, arranged, and performed by Dan Mills, Mark Goodell, Adam Podd

TICVLOG Episode 7 Frequency and History

In TIC VLOG Episode 7, I answer a question about the history of adjustment frequency.

Understanding the original protocols of the chiropractic pioneers gives modern chiropractic practice a new perspective.

This is especially relevant because of the literature. Several recent articles have used a 1902 ad from B.J. Palmer, to try and discredit modern practices. In this TIC VLOG, I explain why that approach is deeply flawed.

Chiropractors need to understand the evolution of theories from D.D. Palmer’s earliest approaches to B.J. Palmer’s final theories and practices. We also need to integrate key moments in the history of chiropractic practice such as Drain’s and Craven’s contributions to chronic and acute care. Frequency models continually evolved between the 1930s and the 1990s.

These foundational historical facts and ideas give us a common basis through which we might dialogue.

BIG IDEAS FROM THIS EPISODE

  • D.D. Palmer proposed yearly chiropractic analysis in 1897.
  • B.J. Palmer’s models of care frequency evolved from 1902 into the 1950s. Any use of his ideas should include those facts.
  • Several articles in the literature use a B.J. Palmer ad from 1902, out of context from the rest of his life, to make a point about modern practice.
  • J.R. Drain pioneered acute and chronic adjusting protocols.
  • The 3-2-1 frequency model probably emerged from the Parker Seminars in the 1980s.
  • Epstein’s frequency model from the late 1990s was based on the findings from two qualitative studies (retrospective and longitudinal).

Resources for this Episode:

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* Music written, arranged, and performed by Dan Mills, Mark Goodell, Adam Podd

TICVLOG 06: DD Palmer’s Books

TIC VLOG Episode 6 explores the question of D.D. Palmer’s two books. Both books were authored by D.D. Palmer. The first one was published by him in 1910. The second one was published by his widow in 1914. D.D. Palmer died October 20, 1913.

In 1921, B.J. Palmer republished the books as one volume. He included this in the Greenbooks series as the second Volume 4. The first Vol. 4 was published in 1908. B.J. edited the book. He took out some of the unflattering critiques about himself. He also removed other content. In the video, I mention one of the edits I found about Jim Atkinson. I am sure there are other edits to be discovered.

EXPANDING ON THIS EPISODE

There are so many interesting things we could expand upon from this topic.

  • D.D. Palmer published articles criticizing B.J. Palmer’s Vols. 2 and 3. The articles started in December 1908 and continued through early 1910. These were first published in his journal The Chiropractor Adjuster. The articles were lightly edited and included in his 1910 book, Text-book of the Science, Art, and Philosophy of Chiropractic for Students and Practitioners. On the spine, it reads, “The Chiropractor’s Adjuster.”
  • Even though D.D. Palmer’s two books were published in 1921, few chiropractors knew about them. For example, Clarence Wieant, DC, PhD, published a classic article in 1979 on “philosophy” in chiropractic as a misnomer. In the article, he claimed that he did not know about D.D.’s 1914 book until the 1960s (even though he graduated in 1924!). Perhaps he just wasn’t paying attention to the new Greenbooks being published while he was in school.
  • When thinking of B.J. Palmer’s loose use of historical fact, I can’t help but think about Bob Dylan. In his autobiographical book, Chronicles, as well as of some recent songs, Dylan was accused of plagiarizing whole passages. When taken in context, it looks as though Dylan was adopting a style of writing reminiscent of traditional folk tunes, classical poetry, and a type of writing that emerged in the 1930s. Perhaps we should view B.J. Palmer’s writings alongside the Nobel Laureate?
  • The first volume of the Greenbooks was published in Autumn 1906. That book is primarily a compilation of D.D. Palmer’s articles prior to March 1906. D.D. Palmer left Davenport in Spring 1906. B.J. Palmer hired a college professor to edit the book and include several other chapters by B.J. and articles from other authors. B.J. published the second edition in 1910 and the third edition in 1917. These editions included new chapters and edited old ones.

Resources for this Episode:

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  • www.instagram.com/simonsenzon

 

* Music written, arranged, and performed by Dan Mills, Mark Goodell, Adam Podd

Chiropractic Philosopher Morikubo

Shegetaro Morikubo was one of the early leaders of chiropractic. He is most famous for following in D.D. Palmer’s footsteps and getting arrested for practicing medicine, osteopathy, and surgery without a license.

Unlike D.D., who spent 23 days in jail, Morikubo’s case was won and set a precedent. Chiropractic was separate and distinct from osteopathy. (Check out my blog post about some of the mistakes in the literature on the topic.)

I have researched and written about his life.

I thought we knew all that we could about him. He grew up in Japan. Descended from an aristocratic Buddhist family in the province of Kanagawa. After his trial, he married and then taught and practiced in Minneapolis. I have read every article that I could find by him written between 1904 and 1922.

I was just completing a lecture series on his life for TIC (and for CE)* when I found out something new!**

Morikubo was a Novelist and Read Shakespeare

Last week I got a surprise email from John Wolfe. Dr. Wolfe is a chiropractic historian, the editor of Chiropractic History, and an associate professor at Northwestern College of Chiropractic. He is also one of the leading Morikubo historians in the world.

Wolfe just found this news article from 1895. It is the earliest known writing we have about Morikubo.

There are several interesting things here. The article refers to him as Shigal (I don’t know much about Kanji but it sounds pretty close to Shegetaro). It also supports some other documents such as his age, his ancestry, when he came to the U.S., and that he was a student in California. (I tried to find historical documents about his early schooling from the Berkeley archives to the Tokio Academy with no luck.)

Furthermore, we learn that he studied English with a tutor and read Shakespeare, Irving, Hawthorne, and Longfellow.

We also learn that he is a budding young novelist who aspired to write a history of Japan. This helps us to make sense of his future plays on Japanese Marriage as well as his several lectures and articles on religion and politics in Japan.

The guy was very interesting.

Chiropractic Philosopher

We know that Morikubo covered some of B.J. Palmer’s lectures in the fall of 1906.

B.J. Palmer did not record his lectures from that year. The first chiropractic green book solely authored by B.J. came out the following year and it was based on his winter 1907 lectures.

Morikubo’s first article on the philosophy, science, and art came out in January 1907. (This was a full 8 months before the infamous trial.) The article included many of the early concepts that would appear in B.J.’s Vol 2.

The Philosophy of Chiropractic

In my lecture series at The Institute Chiropractic, I delve into some of Morikubo’s writings on the philosophy of chiropractic. In this video, I capture some of his more interesting contributions. I recreated two of his drawings as animation from a 1915 article called Chiropractic Philosophy.

A History of Ideas

Many questions emerge when we reflect on the history of ideas in chiropractic. Who originated each of the core theories from the chiropractic paradigm? Which authors should be included in the chiropractic canon of theory, science, and practice? What is the difference between subluxation theory and philosophy in chiropractic? There are many questions still to be answered.

Historical information about the foundational paradigm of chiropractic is still being discovered. It is an exciting time for the profession.

*The lectures on the early leaders in chiropractic will be posted soon as part of the Chiropractic Principles online continuing education program.

**Members of The Institute Chiropractic get access to all of the lectures plus tons of content (over 50 hours) as well as discounts for the CE courses.

Kent Gentempo and Senzon on BJ Palmer

This On Purpose Interview with Kent, Gentempo, and Senzon explores some new ideas about B.J. Palmer’s early theory. Between 1907 and 1909, B.J. Palmer developed the basics of his philosophy and subluxation theories. Several of his ideas were translated into articles and books by his students John Craven and Ralph Stephenson. Some of their interpretations were incorrect.

Diving into B.J. Palmer’s original theory opens up the philosophy of chiropractic in new and interesting ways. The depth of how B.J. Palmer viewed the organism in the context of the environment shines through. The energy and information are transformed in the organism. The transformation is the process through which mind and matter are enacted.

BIG IDEAS FROM THIS EPISODE

  • B.J. Palmer’s theory of the “forun” was developed based on his readings on Electricity from the Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • B.J. Palmer’s most distinct theories were written down as Vol. 2, Vol. 3, and Vol. 5.
  • John Craven collaborated with B.J. on the second edition of Vol. 5 and the third edition of Vol. 2.
  • Some of the mistakes Craven made were so subtle that they obviously got missed by B.J. and other.
  • Craven’s student R.W. Stephenson used Vol. 5 as one of his main sources for his Chiropractic Textbook.
  • Stephenson made some of the same errors as Craven and thus the original theories have been passed down to us as incorrect.

Resources for this Episode:

  • Please join On Purpose and get the monthly Audio Magazine from Kent and Gentempo.
  • Please join The Institute Chiropractic today to access over 50 hours of content and special member pricing for online Continuing Ed.

B.J. Palmer’s House: TIC VLOG Episode 4

In 1952, B.J. Palmer bought a beach home in Sarasota, Florida. It was here that he spent many of his final days. During this time he wrote ten books, traveled to Davenport to teach, managed his school and broadcasting companies, and visited with chiropractic and circus friends. He also confronted his own mortality.

In recent decades, the home was bought by Sid Williams. The Williams family restored the house and converted it into a museum. The B.J. Palmer Historic Home Foundation manages the property and raises funds to upkeep it. A recent storm damaged the dock B.J built for his boat. I visited the house and created this video in hopes of helping to restore it.

BIG IDEAS FROM THIS EPISODE

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* Music written, arranged, and performed by Dan Mills, Mark Goodell, Adam Podd

B.J. Palmer’s Vol 2

In 1907, B.J. Palmer published his first book. It was based on his lectures. He called it Volume 2 in the new series on the Science of Chiropractic. B.J. considered this the second philosophical book. Volume 1 was primarily a compilation of his father’s writings. Volumes 3 and 4 came out in 1908 and Volume 5 in 1909. The chiropractic literature is mostly silent on Vol. 2, even though it was one of the most significant contributions to chiropractic theory of the last century. Many of the ideas B.J. put forth in this text were unique.

This short video clip is part of a lecture on the first edition of the book. Each clip explores one idea or one aspect of B.J.’s theories. His Innate theory built upon his father’s theory of Innate Intelligence, which were developed in 1903 and 1905. B.J. takes it further. We could even compare his ideas to more recent theories associated with enactive cognitive science and autopoiesis.

IMPORTANT RESOURCES

  • B.J. Palmer wrote about 34 books often referred to as The Greenbooks.
  • His early inspiration was from his father whose first chiropractic writings were compiled as Volume 1.
  • Robert Fuller considered D.D. Palmer’s contribution a unique integration of Spiritualist ideas with science.
  • The ideas from Vol. 2 were congruent with modern theories of enaction and autopoiesis.
  • The development of the chiropractic paradigm by the Palmers can be viewed as a form of Systems Science.

To learn more please join The Institute Chiropractic and get access to over two hundred video and audio clips.

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